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Pa. state Rep. Kevin Boyle evades arrest; US Rep. Brendan Boyle says his brother has 'serious mental health condition'

Gillian McGoldrick, Ellie Rushing and Julia Terruso, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

PHILADELPHIA — State Rep. Kevin Boyle had not yet turned himself in to Philadelphia police as of Wednesday evening, a day after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges related to violating a protection from abuse order.

As Boyle eluded arrest, his older brother, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, said the reemergence of a mental health condition led to his brother’s charges and has been “a nightmare for me and our family.” His warrant and absence from the Capitol in Harrisburg also caused hours of delay and partisan disagreement on the Pennsylvania House floor.

And the legal case against Boyle comes days before Tuesday’s primary election, in which state Democratic leaders are backing challenger Sean Dougherty over the seven-term incumbent.

“Kevin’s family, close friends, and several colleagues have done everything possible to get him to enter into treatment, but we have been frustrated by a system that gives little power to the loved ones of an adult with a serious mental health condition,” Brendan Boyle said in his first statement about his younger brother since a public outburst in February led to Kevin Boyle losing Capitol security privileges.

Kevin Boyle faces a charge of violation of a PFA by communication, police said. Additional information was not available Wednesday, nor was it clear where he was or whether he would turn himself in.

Adding to the confusion about his whereabouts, Dustin Slaughter, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, incorrectly said Wednesday morning that Kevin Boyle was in custody. He later said Kevin Boyle had not surrendered to police.

The 44-year-old Democrat, who represents parts of Northeast Philadelphia, has been open about his struggles with his mental health in recent years. In 2021, he was arrested for harassment and violating a protection from abuse order filed by his then-wife, which was later expunged. His brother said in his statement that he “made a full recovery” with treatment and proper medication. Kevin Boyle said in a 2022 letter to constituents that he was having a psychotic episode at the time of his arrest and that his life was saved after subsequent treatment at a mental health facility.

“For the following two years he was completely healthy and exhibited no symptoms whatsoever,” Brendan Boyle said of his brother. “He was thriving at work, won reelection overwhelmingly, and rose to become the chairman of an important state legislative committee. We genuinely believed his mental health issue was in the past.”

But Kevin Boyle’s symptoms resumed several months ago, his brother said, and in recent weeks his mental health deteriorated further as he continued to resist treatment.

“It’s been painful to watch an intelligent, accomplished person with a big heart decline in such a precipitous way,” Brendan Boyle added.

Kevin Boyle will still appear on Tuesday’s ballot and remains a candidate for office, despite his legal troubles. The charges do not disqualify him from holding elected office, and he could still win the primary election. Dougherty, his primary opponent, is a favorite to win the race because he has House Democrats’ backing. The House Democratic Campaign Committee poured $72,000 into Dougherty’s campaign, according to campaign finance reports filed last week.

While the elder Boyle is also up for reelection this year and running unopposed in the primary, the Boyle family has shifted its focus away from next week’s election. The congressman said the family is focused on getting Kevin Boyle the medical treatment he needs “to make a full recovery like he previously did.”

“Our hearts are with Kevin, as well as all families who are suffering because a loved one is afflicted with a mental health illness,” he said.


Boyle still voting in Harrisburg despite his absence

During the last few months, Kevin Boyle has not missed a vote in Harrisburg, despite having his security privileges revoked in February. That means Democratic leaders were likely voting on his behalf via a remote voting policy implemented during the pandemic. Boyle previously denied that his security privileges were revoked.

But House Republicans argued Wednesday that while a warrant is out for his arrest, Boyle should not be eligible for proxy voting and should be put on leave. Removing him from votes could imperil Democrats’ narrow 102-99 majority, as 102 votes are needed to pass any legislation.

Democrats “already determined he’s not fit for duty,” House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler said during a news conference, noting that Democrats are supporting Boyle’s primary challenger. “They understand the severity of the issue and I think they’re taking advantage of him simply to maintain a 102 majority, and that’s wrong.”

The House recessed midday Wednesday while a small group of lawmakers — two Democrats and one Republican — decided whether Democrats could continue to vote on Boyle’s behalf while his whereabouts is unknown. They ultimately determined his voting privileges would remain in place.

House Majority Leader Matt Bradford, D-Montgomery, defended that decision in a statement Wednesday, calling proxy voting a long-standing practice that’s complicated by “a unique and sad set of circumstances.”

“Rep. Boyle desperately needs help, not partisan performative politics,” Bradford added. “Rest assured, in short order, the state House will be taking appropriate, compassionate and affirmative steps to address this matter without theater, partisanship, or delay.”

Even if Boyle loses Tuesday’s primary, he will remain in office until his term ends in January. Democratic leaders in Harrisburg have not called for his resignation.

State Rep. Martina White, R-Philadelphia, who also represents part of Northeast Philadelphia, said her office has taken on extra work to help constituents of Boyle’s 172nd District because his office has been open for appointments only for the last few months.

“I get his constituents calling my office almost daily, because no one is answering their phone at Kevin Boyle’s office,” White added.

Boyle has not yet turned himself into police.


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